Jim Chapin Tribute

chapin-levineWe regret to announce the passing of drum legend Jim Chapin, on July 4, 2009. Jim Chapin (July 23, 1919 – July 4, 2009 ) was a well-regarded American jazz drummer and the author of two of the definitive texts on jazz drumming, Advanced Techniques for the Modern Drummer, Vol. I, and Advanced Techniques for the Modern Drummer, Vol. II. He was also the author of several albums (later converted to CDs) on jazz drumming, as well as 2 CDs entitled Jim Chapin: Songs, Solos, Stories (Vols. 1 and 2).

Check out Jim's book on

Check out Jim's book on

Jim Chapin was a student of Sanford A. Moeller, who invented and popularized the Moeller method. Jim taught this method of drumming to drumming greats such as Dom Famularo, Cesar Zuiderwijk and Thomas Lang, and to many other drummers over his 60-year career. Chapin was friends with legendary drummer and fellow Moeller method user Gene Krupa, and though not as widely-known as Krupa, Buddy Rich, or other era greats, he was well-known among jazz drummers, particularly for Advanced Techniques, which has been called “the definitive study on coordinated independence” for jazz drummers (coordinated independence being the practice of playing in separate times simultaneously).

Freddy Gruber, Jim and Rob Wallis

Freddy Gruber, Jim and Rob Wallis

I will always remember Jim holding court. Whether it was at a NAMM show, PAS convention, backstage at The Modern Drummer Festival, or doing a master class at Drummers Collective – he was always holding a pair of sticks (and usually a practice pad). He enjoyed nothing more than sharing information and his insight on the “right” way to hold the sticks, the way your wrist should work, the arms, etc., etc.

He was a perpetual teacher and liked nothing more than a good argument on technique from someone like Freddie Gruber. And Jim was always the gentleman.

And after sharing his thoughts on hand technique he loved talking about Gene and Buddy. He had stories that could fill a book. He loved music and loved talking about it.

Jim’s mark on drum education will survive forever and I hope people will always remember his kind nature and his love of teaching, sharing and talking drums.

-Rob Wallis, Co-Owner – Hudson Music

View tributes to other music legends: Jim ChapinEarl PalmerMax RoachLouie Bellson

Jim Chapin was a man on a mission. He held court at most every trade show that I attended for the past 25 years.

I spent many an hour with Jim refining my Moeller technique and talking about the great drummers. He made a major contribution to the advancement of modern drumming when he authored his instructional books. I went through Vol 1 when I was 12 years old and the coordination I developed during that time still serves me to this day.

I am grateful that I got to spend time with Jim. He gave his time and knowledge freely and I love him for that gift. His legacy will live on.

-Steve Smith

I first met Jim in 1969 here on Long Island. He was friends with my teacher Al Miller and we would go to see Buddy Rich perform backstage. Jim would tell me what Buddy was doing and analyze it to the slightest movement! My visit with the “Chapin Magic” started!

Jim was always so sharing with his hard earned knowledge. He simply taught the best drummers in the 20th century and was working on the 21st century. His books, CD’s and DVD is a university of information….owning them all is a must!

I have learned from him, taught with him, performed with him and even played for him while he sang. He loved life and music equally. I am a better person for having experienced the “Chapin Magic!”

He was called the Father of drumming independence…how ironic of him to pass away on July 4th….America’s Independence.

Jim will live long in his contributions…I ask the future generations of drummers to continue is seeking out the wealth of sharing Jim gave us.

Now on the 4th of July…look up at the fireworks and celebrate the magic of Jim Chapin!

– Dom Famularo

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